To Quote Jim Mora…You want to talk playoffs…We couldn't do diddly-poo offensively. We couldn't make a first down. We didn't run the ball. We didn't try to run the ball. We couldn't complete a pass. We sucked”.
The Steelers playoffs hopes look bleak, No Willie Parker, No Marvel Smith or Max Starks, No Aaron Smith. Troy Polamula, Ike Taylor and Ben are hobbled with injuries. The Jaguars outplayed and out coached the Steelers in every possible way on December 16. Other than an Anthony Smith interception the Jaguars played a perfect game and won by seven points. That’s the freaking key…The Steelers played awful on both sides of the ball and lost by seven points.
What we will be different in this game? I don’t expect Hines Ward and Heath Miller to combine for five dropped passes. I don’t expect the Jaguars to run three draw plays for twelve yards plus on 3rd down and 10 yards to go. I don’t expect the Steelers to miss 21 tackles. What I hope is different in this game…There is more than one way to pressure a quarterback, the Steelers blitz packages are just not getting there, you can sit there and be a naive fool believing LeBeau hasn’t showed his entire blitz package…People he has…The Steelers don’t have the horses upfront to pressure the QB with the blitz. The Jaguars Wide Receivers struggle to beat the jam at the line of scrimmage on a good field…Heinz Field is a mess…I believe the Steelers best chance of success is blitzing five and playing the corners up in bump coverage on obvious pass downs. Offensively the Steelers have to come out attacking; this means 1st down passing, this means trick plays, this means winning the freaking battles at the line of scrimmage. The Jaguars are expecting to out will and out muscle the Steelers in their back yard…I said it before and I will say it again…The Steelers don’t lose street fights in their backyard.
Jaguars with the Ball…The Jaguars want to run the ball forty times, control the clock, and keep the Steelers offense off the field. The Jaguars have two great backs in Fred Taylor and Moe Jones-Drew, both backs run hard with a great forward lean…Fred Taylor has great feet with rare cutting ability for a big back, Jones-Drew is a homerun threat every time he touches the ball. David Garrard is a great manager, Garrard doesn’t have the passing skills to put this team on his back and win the game. Garrard’s arm doesn’t scare me…His ability to scramble for first downs does. I spoke of pressuring the quarterback earlier in this article…This is how I pressure Garrard…I play both of my starting cornerbacks up in coverage…No more then seven yards off the ball…I take away the freaking time routes…I force Garrard to make reads and throws into tight spaces. Playing the corners up also helps in the run game… Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend fight through blocks as good as any corner combo in the NFL. The Steelers defensive line and outside linebackers must beat blocks…The Steelers inside linebackers must play solid fundamental football…They MUST form tackle, They CAN NOT over pursue the ball. If the Steelers play smart defensive football, if they rally to the ball, if they play together…They will choke off the Jaguars run game…If the Steelers choke off the Jaguars run game…They will kick this team’s ass back to Florida.
Brett Kiesel and Travis Kierschke/ Khalif Barnes and Tony Pashos… Barnes and Pashos worked Kiesel and Kierschke over. Both were dominated in the run game. Kiesel and Kierschke must anchor against the run… The Jaguars run game is predicated on dominating the interior matchups. Both must control his gap(s) not only in base formations but also in the nickel, dime or any other exotic formation LeBeau can dream up…Make a big freaking pile, They can not get pan caked…They can not get driven five yards off the ball. If you’re going to win a street fight your front seven must kick ass. Kiesel needs to find his heart. At some point a player must stop being the nail and he must become the hammer. Travis Kierschke can give this defense 35 plays tops…The Steelers defense must get off the field.
Big Snack Larry Foote and James Farrior/Vince Manuwai/Brad Meester Maurice Williams…Casey Hampton is a big game hunter. I expect a huge game from Hampton. All this negative talk about the Steelers run defense…Hampton has to take it to heart. At times some teams are now attempting to block Hampton man up…Hampton beats the center off the snap but he gets too ”deep” to play the run….In other words he takes himself out of plays. Casey needs to find the ball after he beats the blocker...Hampton needs to make a few plays…He must force the double team. Larry Foote can’t tackle to save his life…Son it’s football…Put your facemask on the ball carriers numbers, bring your feet, roll your hips, and explode. James Farrior is getting a bad rap from most Steelers fans. The defensive end play in front of him has been abysmal…Farrior needs to control his emotions and move on to the next play…Farrior is the heart beat of this defense…He is a play maker who is way overdue. Casey Hampton is the key…He must force the double teams…I believe he will. The Jags run game is built to run between the tackles you can’t risk Hampton 3 yards in the backfield dropping big shots on your backs…Larry Foote and James Farrior must make plays…They must form tackle…They must maintain gap integrity.
James Harrison Clark Haggans/ Mercedes Lewis and George Wrighster…The Steelers didn’t fair well in this matchup in the previous game. Wrighster is a run blocking machine. The Steelers outside linebackers must force stalemates…Lewis is a tall finesse tight end who struggles to get movement in the run game but does a fine job of sealing players in the run game. The Steelers outside linebackers MUST set the edge…They can not allow the Jags Te’s to turn them inside.
Defensive Backs on the skill position players of the Jags….The safeties must form tackle. If the Jags running backs beat the front seven the safeties must minimize the gain. They must keep gap integrity on run blitzes. The Jags Wr’s are big that doesn’t mean they like to run block. Wilfok is a quality blocker…Northcutt Jones and Williams want no parts of run blocking.
Passing game….I spoke in detail about this earlier…I would make Garrard beat me. In obvious passing situations I would not send the house…I would come with five…I would play my corners up and get my hands on the Jaguars receivers…I would force Garrard to make tight throws. I would sneak Troy into a robber role allow him to break on the ball and make some plays. If the Steelers can force Garrard to read the field the front five will get there…Kiesel Harrison Woodley and Haggans have just missed sacks this year…half a second is all it takes. The defensive line must rush the passer…No standing around playing patty cake…The defensive backs and backers must punish the receivers every time they touch the ball…This defense has become slow and nice….That won’t cut it in the Steel City.
Keys to victory
-Win the matchups up front. The Defensive line and Linebackers must BEAT blocks
-Play fast but smart….You can not over pursue or blow your gap assignment
-Rally to and attack the Football
-No dumb penalties
-No blown coverage’s
-Be the hammer not the nail.
-Find this year’s Kimo Von Bomber Pilot…A player who just takes bodies
Steelers with the Ball
I am going to address one bullshit view right off the bat. This team is NOT better off without Willie Parker in the lineup. You can never have enough playmakers on the field. No Marvel Smith and Max Starks would mean instant death in most playoff games; not this one. Trai Essex is a fat piece of poo. He has played pretty well in some limited action for the Steelers in the past. The Steelers offensive line will make or break this game for the Steelers. If the Steelers Oline is dominated the Steelers will lose this game. If the Steelers Oline is decent they have a very good chance of winning this game. If the Steelers offensive line is dominant they will win this game…and win it by 10 points or more. Najeh Davenport must attack the hole and run down hill. Davenport must protect the ball…The Jaguars defensive line is pretty big…The Jags linebackers are undersized and quick…Davenport needs to punish them. …This is the playoffs …There is no tomorrow. I have a feeling Gary Russell sees more carries than most people expect…Russell must protect the ball. Both Russell and Davenport run with short choppy steps, that running style works best on a shitty field…And let’s face facts....Heinz field is shitty. I hope the Steelers attack the Jaguars with the passing game early. I’d go after Brian Williams and Sammy Knight in coverage early and often. Ben needs to read the field and takes what’s there…Hit the check downs…Manageable 3rd downs is the key to offensive success. Ben needs to throw darts…He needs to be the messiah. The Steelers secondary weapons need to have big games… (Matt Spaeth Carey Davis Cedric Wilson Gary Russell Verron Haynes). Everyone believe the Jaguars defense is going to dominate the Steelers offense…I say **** that…I will put my money on Hines Ward Heath Miller Santonio Holmes and Nate Washington catching the ball from the best young quarterback in the NFL in Ben Roethlisberger…The Steelers offensive line will not dominate…They will show up for #7. Najeh Davenport is a 250 pound back with sweet feet…He has the opportunity to show how special he is.
Trai Essex and Willie Colon/Paul Spicer Reggie Hayward….Essex does just enough to block his man in the run game. I believe Essex will be ok in the run game against Hayward…Essex won’t blow Hayward off the ball…He will move his feet enough to create a crease and seal Hayward away from the ball carrier…If Essex gets off the ball and reestablishes the line of scrimmage in the run game I will be thrilled. Willie Colon really struggled with Paul Spicer last game. Colon must keep his head up; you can’t block what you can’t see…He must keep his feet moving. I am more concerned with Willie Colon in the run game then Trai Essex. Colon needs to dominate Spicer…He has little to no chance of doing so…Spicer is the bigger, stronger, quicker, far more intense player. Colon needs to come off the ball low and hard…He must block until he hears the echo of the referees whistle.
Alan Faneca and Kendoll Simmons/ Rob Meier John Henderson Grady Jackson…The Jaguars will flop their defensive tackles….I expect to see mostly John Henderson on Alan Faneca and Rob Meier on Kendoll Simmons. Simmons will struggle…Meier’s best fit would be 34 defensive end…He dominated Simmons in the previous matchup…Simmons is useless. Faneca and Henderson will be a war…Faneca actually did a decent job on Henderson in the first game. I would try something different this week …I would allow Simmons to cut the defensive tackle on any run play away…I would not pull my guards. The Steelers offensive line can not blow people off the ball…I would create creases and slow down the defensive line by cutting defensive linemen….Only one thing in this world that defensive linemen hate more then holding…That’s cut blocking.
Sean Mahan/Daryl Smith…Mahan needs to pickoff backers…He needs to be sly and chop defensive tackles….This is the playoffs…There is no tomorrow…That one chop block you get away with maybe the chop block that injures Henderson’s ankle or knee…Its football…Not golf…Shit happens. Smith is a drag down tackler and not very physical.
Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth/ Justin Durant and Clint Ingram…The Steelers tight ends were horrible in the first game. Miller played his worst game as a pro. Spaeth was slow off the ball. If the Steelers have any chance of running the ball the Tight ends must win matchups. The Steelers Tight Ends are the bigger nastier players…There is no excuse for missing blocks.
Running the ball between the tackles is going to be tough for the Steelers. I believe the Steelers can win matchups and get the edge on the Jaguars defense…The question becomes do the Steelers have a back who can get the corner? I guess we will see Saturday at 8:15
If Ben is on…The Jaguars have no answer. Ben missed at least 5 easy completions against the Jags. Receivers dropped 4 catch-able balls. This is the area I believe the Steelers have the biggest advantage. Rashean Mathias is a very good corner…Hines Ward is just too nasty for him. Brian Williams struggles to run with small fast wide receivers…Say hello to my little friend Santonio Holmes. Scott Starks the Jags nickel corner is quick but small…He struggles to read routes…I believe Wilson or Washington could give him fits. Rookie Superstar Free Safety Reggie Nelson could barely limp from a deep quad bruise on Thursday…The Jaguars starting Strong safety Sammy Knight was over the hill 3 years ago. If the pass blocking holds up the Steelers should look to pass all over this defense.
Keys to victory
-The Oline can not be dominated
-No dumb turnovers
-Ben must be the messiah
-Skill position players must make plays
-Aggressive play calling
The Steelers suck…The Jags are not much better.